CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – No matter what branch they’re in, each service member develops a specific set of skills.
Sometimes those skills translate well into the civilian world, and sometimes it’s a bit tricker.
“It’s an adjustment. I can testify to that firsthand,” said Dale Durand, a recent retiree from a 30-year career in the Marine Corps.
Durand has now moved from information technology at the Pentagon to a much different environment.
“I now work full-time with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,” he said.
Durand was able to take his IT training from the military and apply it to a career outside the service, but that’s not always the case.
Aaron Harper with Veterans Bridge Home in Charlotte sees it a lot.
“They don’t have any college; they don’t have certifications or anything like that other than military certification related to combat,” he explained. “An employer or HR person looks at their resume, you’re like, ‘you’ve done a whole bunch of cool stuff, but you’re equivalent to a high school graduate.'”
Harper is a retired fifth-generation Marine and has accepted a new mission to help connect veterans with employment, housing, healthcare, and community needs through Veterans Bridge Home.
‘We don’t actually have any homes, but we do have folks that can connect to them so that it’s a right resource, right veteran, right connection, right time,” he said.
He said that the key to a successful transition is finding direction.
“When you meet that vet, and they’re like, ‘I can do anything,’ there’s a super gung-ho attitude,” he said. “It’s like, I agree with you, you probably can, well let’s narrow that down. What do you really want to do? And then what also are you qualified to do?”
While Durand stuck with the IT field, he leaned on Veterans Bridge Home when it was time to jump back into work and get plugged into a community, which he says can also be a struggle.
“You know, it goes down to ultimately having the courage as a veteran to step out under the new label and lifestyle, learning to accept the assistance,” Durand said.
It’s adjusting to even the small things, like picking your work wardrobe for the first time in 30 years.
While Durand said the veteran community had been embraced here in Charlotte, he’s encouraging all companies to look beyond words on a resume and consider bringing them on board.
“I think it’s without exception that veterans of any scale or time of service, there are just some intrinsic intangibles that they bring to an organization,” he said.
According to a LinkedIn Veteran Opportunity Report, 33% of veterans are considered under-employed, which can lead to lower wages and lower personal development.
Veterans are also 70% more likely to take a step back in seniority when leaving the service.